National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

The Birth of Conservation at NRS

The Birth of Conservation at NRS

One of the most pressing problems facing Thomas Thomson, the first Deputy Clerk Register (1806-1839), was conservation of the records, many of which had arrived in an atrocious condition. Repairing these was painstaking and costly but Thomson wrote: "…I am not aware of any…expense that could be so usefully bestowed on the Ancient Records of Scotland…". His problem was finding skilled paper repairers who could train people in Register House.

Little is known about the people who carried out early repairs on the records but we do know that between 1806 and 1808 a Mrs Maria Weir, a skilled book and paper restorer, came from London "to repair, wash and mend the manuscripts of the Society of Writers to the Signet, at a salary of a guinea a week". 

Since the very beginning, therefore, Conservation has played an essential role in the National Records of Scotland. Today the work of the conservators is still paramount to guarantee that our national heritage is preserved for future generations and made accessible to readers.